YORK City boss Gary Mills believes a switch to midfield can get Matty Blair back on the goal trail.
Blair has only netted once in his last 19 outings and has managed just five for the season after finishing last term as the Minstermen’s 20-goal top scorer.
But the former Kidderminster winger forced the only two saves from home goalkeeper Luke McCormick during Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Oxford United and Mills is backing him to be more potent after moving inside from the flanks.
Blair is likely to fill the side’s attacking midfield role again for tonight’s League Two clash at promotion-chasing Rotherham with Mills adding: “With Scott Kerr and John McGrath in there, I just felt we needed somebody energetic like Blairy to get on and support Jason Walker at Oxford.
“He did that well and made some decent runs from midfield. He had that headed chance and you know he will work well from there and get in the box.
“He wasn’t getting involved enough in the wide position and we know he can hurt teams from midfield because he’s done it before and scored a couple of goals from there earlier in the season.
“I think he can get more from there when you look at his attributes.
“He’s got more energy than most people in the game and it’s good to have that in the middle of the park because he can get alongside and beyond the strikers, as well as getting back to defend.
“Nobody will catch him when he makes those runs and he made a few that did not get picked out on Saturday.
“He’s just got to keep making them because we will pick him out.
“I’ve always liked him there and, while he scored a lot of goals from wide areas last season, that hasn’t materialised this season.”
Blair scored the only goal in City’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy triumph at Rotherham earlier in the season and Mills reckons this evening’s match could follow a similar script to that encounter, adding: “It was a tough game and hard work that night – a bit like Saturday’s game.
“It was 0-0 for a long time but we kept our concentration and took that one chance. Unfortunately, we had two or three that we did not take at Oxford but nothing changes for the next game.
“We’ve got to maintain our hard work and discipline and take any opportunities that come our way.”
Teenage defender Jack O’Connell will, meanwhile, be available to face his former Rotherham team-mates after extending his loan deal with City to the end of the season.
The on-loan Blackburn centre-back played five games for the New York Stadium outfit earlier in the season and Mills said: “Whatever happened when he went there is not important to me.
“I feel we are seeing the best of Jack week in, week out and good players are consistent, which he has been for us so hopefully that will be maintained. He’s come in and done a great job for us.
“He’s got better each game and I’ve been delighted with him.
“It’s nice to still have him with three defenders in David McGurk, Chris Doig and Jon Challinor still unavailable.”